Fiona O’Donnell

PhD Candidate, Civil Engineering

Fiona O’Donnell is a PhD candidate in the Structural Engineering and Mechanics program. Fiona graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering where she performed undergraduate research on lunar habitats. Fiona’s current research investigates the feasibility of using traditionally underutilized eastern species in large scale CLT construction.

Project Title: Modeling and Evaluation of Low-Value Eastern Species in Cross Laminated Timber Panels

Dissertation Committee:
Co-chairs: S.R. Arwade & P.L. Clouston
Member: A.C. Schreyer

Project Description:
Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a massive wood composite panel employed in largescale construction floor, wall, and roof assemblies as a cost effective and environmentally friendly alternative to traditional building materials. Currently, CLT is fabricated from high quality species which is defined, in part, by limitations on the knot size since knot defects have a significant influence on structural performance and effective material properties. However, CLT has a composite nature that is inherently forgiving of defects. Investigating the feasibility and potential of using traditionally low-value woods in CLT will give rise to more sustainable building practices and increased job opportunities in rural areas of the United States. A series of analysis methods have been created and are employed to determine the structural viability of low-value species in CLT panels: stochastic geometric characterization of knot defects, a finite element multiscale analysis of knots, experimental evaluation of low-value species material properties, and an investigation into other strength reducing naturally occurring defects.